NORWAY – Oxen of all sizes and drivers of all ages showed their stuff this weekend at the Oxford County Fairgrounds.

The Pine Tree Steer and Oxen Association held its annual oxen pull with festivities starting Saturday morning with 12-year-old and younger drivers and teams weighing under 1,000 pounds. Katelen Currier won with her oxen pulling a loaded sled 660 feet in the allotted 5 minutes.

It was Katelen’s third year of competition. Her 7-year-old brother, Spencer, placed fourth in the 12-year-old and younger six-foot pull in which the team has three tries in five minutes to pull a loaded sled six feet. Additional weight is added until all but one team is eliminated.

While it was Spencer’s second year to compete, it was the first competition for his new team of young calves. He dropped out of the competition after his oxen had successfully pulled a 500-pound load so as not to strain them with the larger weights.

Last year, when he was 6, Spencer won a first, second and third prize in different classes.

Their father, Carrabassett Valley resident Bruce Currier, also had a team entered in competition. Currier got his first oxen when he was 8 or 9 years old and has been competing ever since. He said oxen pulls make a great family project.

“If I was into race cars, I would spend my evenings in the garage with a bunch of guys; with oxen, the kids and I work together to train and care for the stock,” he said.

Katelen and Spencer seemed to share their father’s enthusiasm for the sport. When complemented on how well behaved Spencer’s team was, Currier said that you had to get the animals when they were young and then work with them every day.

Currier has used oxen for logging. He said that it is a unique experience to be in the winter woods working with a pair of oxen. “It is so quiet” compared to logging with mechanized equipment. People can’t make much money at it, he said, but expenses are nothing but a little hay and feed and there’re no payments or repairs to equipment.

Seventy-five-year-old Alfred Eastman of Porter, who has worked with oxen for more than half a century, agreed that it was necessary to work with them every day. He also agreed that oxen make a good family activity.

“If I can’t do it one day, then my wife takes them out and works with them,” he said. Eastman drove his three-year-old team in the men’s 2,400-pound class. His wife, Jean, drove them in the ladies division. The team won second place with Jean driving and third place with Alfred giving the commands.

The yokes are custom made for the oxen and make a big difference in how well the team performs. Jay resident Donald Quirrion made many of the yokes used locally. He has yokes in all of the New England states as well as in several states outside the region.

“I even made a set for a man in Seattle, Wash., but they were just a decoration to hang on the wall of his lodge,” he said.

He prefers to carve the yokes from clear Maine yellow birch, which is light and strong.

Joe Currier won the sweepstakes when his 5,400-pound team pulled a 7,000-pound sled 222 feet in five minutes.


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